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REQUIRED LISTENING: a musician's personal notes about favorite artists.

The Ballad Of John Henry.
The early 90s were a turning point in the history of rock music. In particular, as applied to the electric guitar. A critical mass had been reached where TOO MUCH cheesy hair metal diluted the spirit of rock. At this point, and onto the scene came: Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam (and etc.) which (while being a good thing for music), left no room for great lead guitar players.

It took a long time for the modern guitarist to get up from the canvas (so to speak) and into the new millennium. The business of music was (and is) changing, revealing a smaller pie more with more music being given a chance to succeed. Consequently guitar players CAN find an audience (via the internet), and really good music IS out there, ...just finding it is a tad harder (minus the huge music machine).

The Ballad Of John Henry. Just call him what he is, Joe is one of the true triple threats (guitar player, singer, songwriter). This collection of songs begins with the title song and a ballsy riffing full of dynamic power. Following next is the awesomely beautiful song, "Stop", an minor blues with liquid lead guitar lines and a melodic chorus. Bonamassa's talent is in full display on this song and it's really cool to see how he has matured as a musician. The driving "Last Kiss" encompasses a modern tale threaded onto a classic blues idiom. Other favorites include, "Happier Times", (Ike & Tina Turner's) "Funkier Than A Mosquito's Tweeter", and the beautifully foreboding "The Great Flood."

All through this set of songs, Joe's guitar tone is a good as it gets. It is clear from these tracks that Joe Bonamassa has developed his very own unique and very identifiable guitar song. THAT is the mark of a master guitar player. The Ballad Of John Henry is my favorite disc from Bonamassa to date and I look forward to MORE stuff to come.

posted: March 28, 2011.


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